Yamaguchi, Hiroya, Badenes, Carles, Petre, Robert, Nakano, Toshio, Castro, Daniel, Enoto, Teruaki, Hiraga, Junko S., Hughes, John P., Maeda, Yoshitomo, Nobukawa, Masayoshi, Safi-Harb, Samar, Slane, Patrick O., Smith, Randall K., and Uchida, Hiroyuki. 2014. "Discriminating the Progenitor Type of Supernova Remnants with Iron K-shell Emission." Astrophysical Journal Letters 785:L27. https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/785/2/L27
Supernova remnants (SNRs) retain crucial information about both their parent explosion and circumstellar material left behind by their progenitor. However, the complexity of the interaction between supernova ejecta and ambient medium often blurs this information, and it is not uncommon for the basic progenitor type (Ia or core-collapse) of well-studied remnants to remain uncertain. Here we present a powerful new observational diagnostic to discriminate between progenitor types and constrain the ambient medium density of SNRs using solely Fe K-shell X-ray emission. We analyze all extant Suzaku observations of SNRs and detect Fe Ka emission from 23 young or middle-aged remnants, including five first detections (IC 443, G292.0 1.8, G337.2-0.7, N49, and N63A). The Fe Ka centroids clearly separate progenitor types, with the Fe-rich ejecta in Type Ia remnants being significantly less ionized than in core-collapse SNRs. Within each progenitor group, the Fe Ka luminosity and centroid are well correlated, with more luminous objects having more highly ionized Fe. Our results indicate that there is a strong connection between explosion type and ambient medium density, and suggest that Type Ia supernova progenitors do not substantially modify their surroundings at radii of up to several parsecs. We also detect a K-shell radiative recombination continuum of Fe in W49B and IC 443, implying a strong circumstellar interaction in the early evolutionary phases of these core-collapse remnants.